Sweating is great for your skin unless you leave it there to dry, which may clog the pores

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

March 14, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

My skin always seems to break out when I'm on a workout kick. Is sweating bad for your skin?

Absolutely not. "But make sure you're cleansing your skin immediately afterward," says Jodi Dorf, manager and esthetician at Stars Esthetics Spa in Baltimore.

Allowing sweat to dry on the skin can clog pores and cause acne. Dorf explains that sweating is a necessary way for your body to release toxins. With your system detoxified, your skin will be brighter and healthier -- this is one of the reasons spas use steam treatments. Also, new research shows that human sweat contains an antibiotic called dermacidin, which fights bacteria that can cause skin infections. So, sweat away.

Should I exercise when I have a head cold?

If you have the energy to exercise when you're sick, do. Fever-sufferers, you are the exception. Stay home.

The American Council on Exercise reports that it is unlikely that exercising with an upper-respiratory virus will slow recovery time. So get out and sweat a little while the virus runs its course. (High-intensity activities like competitive sports are another story. They will exhaust a weakened system.)

After you are well again, keep up the workouts. Regular exercise will cut your risk of catching a cold in the first place.

Is spot reduction a fitness myth, or is it really possible to burn fat in one area?

It pains us to say it, but yes, spot reduction is a myth. While you can isolate and strengthen certain muscle groups, you cannot burn fat in just one area of the body.

If you want trimmer arms or a tighter tummy, you need to rev up your cardiovascular and strength workouts, which will cut overall body fat. Eating right will also help speed up the process. Meanwhile, targeting a certain body part with low-weight, high-repetition lifting can help give the illusion of spot reduction. Good luck.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@baltsun.com.

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